It was in 1967 that what has come to be known as 'the Pan African Cooperative Conference (PCC)' was held in Cotonou, Benin, for the first time at the initiative of cooperative organisations, States, trade Unions with support from the Afro-American Labour Centre (CAAT). This first meeting organized from 2 to 6 October 1967 was attended by representatives of eleven (11) African countries. Since then the number of member countries has risen to 20, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Comoros, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo.
The birth of the Pan African Co-operative Conference was thus the positive response of Africa to recommendation 127 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) of 1966 on the role of co-operative societies in developing countries.
It was in 1976 that the first agreement between the co-operative movement, trade unions and States was signed officially dedicating the Pan-African Co-operative Training Centre (CPFC) which later became the Pan-African Higher Institute of Co-operative Economics (ISPEC) as the training tool of the PCC. This mother body, responsible for the direction and decisions eventually moved from tripartism to bipartism: Co-operative societies / States with a joint Board of Directors still chaired by a co-operator.
To endow itself with a clear orientation, the Executive Secretariat of the PCC adopted a development plan in 2012 in which it clearly spelt out its vision, mission and development objectives as follows:
In 2014, the PCC, better structured and active, stands out as a vector and flag bearer of sustainable cooperative development in Africa, and increasingly resorts to cooperative entrepreneurship to spearhead the fight against poverty, promoting best practices, training and action research in the cooperative field in keeping with universal cooperative principles and values.
The Pan African Co-operative Conference meets every two years and works for the interests of its members (States, national umbrella cooperative organizations, African organizations working effectively for the promotion of cooperative societies on the continent) and the African cooperative movement as a whole. It is responsible for:
Encouraging and supporting in each member country the formulation of co-operative development policy strategies, the design of co-operative programmes and the adoption of legislation in the co-operative sector to ensure the identity and autonomy of co-operative enterprises in their diversity;
Evaluating national policy strategies for the promotion of co-operatives across the continent and contributing to their harmonisation;
Supporting the implementation of programmes in member countries and participating in their assessment.
Undertaking ongoing advocacy to obtain the support of each country to the co-operative movement and the adoption of accompanying measures, especially the development of the training of human resources and co-operative practices, the creation of conducive conditions for the emergence of viable co-operative enterprises and the promotion of research in this field.
To accomplish its mission and achieve the set goals, the Executive Secretariat of the PCC has established an organizational structure with a pool of experts from diverse backgrounds made up of specialists in cooperative economics, microfinance, organisational development, group and individual entrepreneurship, and business management. It also has a knowledge network run by members of the Board of Directors present in more than a dozen countries and able to help identify other skills needed if the need arises. The main organs of the PCC include:
In addition to the Executive Secretariat, the Board of Directors (BOD) oversees the African University for Co-operative Development (AUCD) in Cotonou-Benin, the Supportive Counselling Centre lodged at the Permanent Secretariat in Yaoundé, Cameroon and the African Cooperative Development Bank (BADCOOP) in the pipeline.
The overall objective of the PCC is to encourage member countries in promoting cooperative entrepreneurship as an alternative for the effective fight against poverty in a political, economic, legal and regulatory environment that is conducive for the development of such entrepreneurship.
The overall objective mentioned above can be broken down into five specific objectives as follows:
The achievements of the PCC for the last decade include the following:
Adoption at Ouagadougou of the Ten-year Action Plan (PAD) by the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, as a strategy for sustainable job creation.
The 15th session of the PCC at Brazzaville identified three major priorities: opening up of the PCC to all African countries, the creation of an African Cooperative Development Bank and the transformation of ISPEC Cotonou into an African University for Co-operative Development (AUCD), Cotonou.
Effective mutation of ISPEC into the African University for Co-operative Development (AUCD).
Adoption in Lomé in December of the OHADA Uniform Act on the right of co-operative societies that covers the legal and judicial area of 17 countries following the submission of the matter to OHADA by the PCC.
The administration of the PCC was transferred from Cotonou (Benin), which remains the seat of the University, to its continental headquarters in Yaoundé (Cameroon) and it is endowed with a functional Executive Secretariat.